Swindon boss praises groundsman: Richie Wellens revealed the work of groundsman Marcus Cassidy and his army of matchday volunteers played a big part in his decision to accept the Swindon Town manager’s role little under a year ago.
Last week, Town scooped the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Professional Football Grounds Team of the Year accolade at an awards ceremony hosted at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham.
It’s the third time that Cassidy and his volunteers have been recognised for their efforts at a major awards ceremony in three years.
Last season, Town won the EFL’s League Two Grounds Team of the Year award. And the season before, Cassidy scooped the highly commended award.
With next Wednesday marking a year since Wellens was confirmed as Phil Brown’s successor at the Energy Check County Ground, Wellens took the opportunity to applaud the efforts of Stonehouse-based Cassidy – who is midway through his 19th season at the club.
Wellens said: “It’s great Marcus is winning these awards – it’s a big part of why I came here.
“A lot of pitches at this level are small – 12 or 15 yards shorter than ours and a lot narrower.
“For me, it’s difficult to play good football on those pitches and that’s why teams score a lot of goals from set plays and long throws.
“Everyone knows how good Marcus is. It’s probably better because he never lets us train on it. I half let him off with that.”
Town’s ground staff were tested during last Saturday’s home game against Walsall when heavy rain at the conclusion of half-time saw underfoot conditions deteriorate.
Puddles gathered, although Town weathered the literal storm to record a 2-1 win.
The pitch will now be rested for more than two weeks with no game scheduled until Mansfield Town visit in League Two on November 23 – although that could change if this weekend’s FA Cup first-round clash at Cheltenham Town is drawn.
Despite the praise, Wellens made no secret of his desire to train more frequently at the County Ground to boost players’ home awareness.
He said: “It will get loads of rest. Next time we turn up here, I expect the grass to be cut the exact length and expect it to look pristine because no one is allowed on it for two weeks.
“And it should be that way. Marcus is a groundsman is paid to keep the grass looking brilliant – and he’s doing a great job.
“The pitch was difficult last Saturday. When you sit in the stands, it looks green and flat.
“But when you walk on it at the end, there were a lot of puddles – mainly because of the sheer amount of rain.”
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